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UFC 280 Main Card Picks on DraftKings Sportsbook

Tim Finnegan gives UFC 280 bets to consider on DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen v Dillashaw Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Saturday’s UFC 280 event takes place from Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and due to the location, the card has an earlier start time than usual. The main card gets underway at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon, eight hours earlier than the usual start time of 10:00 p.m. ET for the main card.

UFC 280 is headlined by two title fights. The main event is a lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and rising star Islam Makhachev. Oliveira entered his last fight as the reigning UFC lightweight champion, but missing weight caused him to be stripped of his title. Oliveira was not allowed to reclaim the title despite winning, and he will have to beat Makhachev to officially be recognized as the champion again.

The co-main event is a bantamweight title bout between current champion Aljamain Sterling and former champion TJ Dillashaw. Like Oliveira, Dillashaw did not lose his title inside the octagon. Instead, Dillashaw relinquished the bantamweight title after a failed drug test.

During the last UFC PPV at UFC 279, a DraftKings Sportsbook bettor made a big profit with the help of Nate Diaz. The bettor turned $100 into $1,900 by placing this Same Game Parlay (SGP) on DraftKings Sportsbook at +1900 odds:

  • Nate Diaz moneyline
  • Over 2.5 Rounds
  • Nate Diaz by submission

Because Diaz won by submission in Round 4, the bettor successfully cashed their bet.

Below, we examine some of the UFC betting offerings for UFC 280 by DraftKings Sportsbook and give bets to consider.

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Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira

This is a matchup between two elite grapplers who have different grappling styles. Islam Makhachev is a monstrous offensive wrestler who has an elite top game that allows him to drag opponents into the deep end and either control them for a decision win or drown them with a finish. Because Makhachev is so good at smothering his opponents, he barely absorbs any strikes, absorbing under one significant strike per minute, which is amazing. Makhachev has been compared to his training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov due to a similar fighting style.

On the flip side, Charles Oliveira is a submission specialist who has a dangerous bottom game. Oliveira is a finishing machine and holds the record for most wins via submission in UFC history with 16. Makhachev fighting his normal style will be dangerous in this fight, because grappling with Oliveira is often a recipe for getting caught in a submission.

That said, Makhachev’s top game is so good that he is probably best served taking Oliveira down anyway and working from top position. Oliveira has developed good striking, and Makhachev standing with Oliveira carries substantial risk for Makhachev. Makhachev’s only career loss is by TKO off a counter-lead hook in the standup portion of the fight. Makhachev’s submission defense is probably good enough to avoid getting caught even by someone as dangerous as Oliveira, and by working a smothering wrestling game, Makhachev will be in position to win this fight with takedowns, control time and close-distance strikes. A submission win is not out of the question, either, as Oliveira has tapped three times in UFC fights, including twice by choke.

Pick: Islam Makhachev Moneyline (-175)

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Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw

TJ Dillashaw was once one of the most complete fighters in the UFC, but inactivity in recent years has left some questions as to how he will look at age 36. Dillashaw has only fought once since 2019 due to a combination of a suspension and a knee injury. In Dillashaw’s return fight against Cory Sandhagen in 2021, he grinded out a close decision win despite injuring his knee early in the fight, which he claims diminished his performance for the rest of the fight.

Aljamain Sterling is coming off a big upset win over Petr Yan. Despite being outlanded in strikes, Sterling won a close split decision in part due to taking Yan’s back twice off takedowns and controlling Yan for large portions of the fight from a dominant back position with a body triangle.

Sterling is going to have to find a different way to win against Dillashaw. Dillashaw has the defensive wrestling and scrambling ability to avoid getting caught in dominant positions on the ground and can dictate where this fight takes place.

Dillashaw is a better striker than Sterling and will likely have the edge in a striking match. Sterling’s takedown defense has also been leaky, stopping only 41% of opponent takedown attempts. Sterling has been taken down multiple times in five of his UFC fights. This could open up a path for Dillashaw to launch offensive wrestling, or at least threaten offensive wrestling with level changes and feints, which could open up more room for strikes to land on the feet.

Dillashaw is likely past his prime, but he still has the skills to beat Sterling. As the underdog, taking the Dillashaw moneyline at plus money is an appealing bet on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Pick: TJ Dillashaw Moneyline (+145)

Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley

Sean O’Malley is the underdog in this fight at +255 on the moneyline, but there are a few ways he can make this fight competitive. For one, O’Malley has elite striking metrics. O’Malley has the second-best striking volume in the history of the UFC on a time-adjusted basis, landing just under eight significant strikes per minute. His striking differential is also one of the best in UFC history, landing about 4.5 more strikes per minute than he has absorbed. O’Malley is longer than Yan and will have a five-inch reach advantage and a four-inch height advantage, which will aid him on distance strikes.

O’Malley has been a big finisher with 11 of his 15 career wins coming by KO/TKO, but is unlikely that O’Malley will finish this fight. Yan is extremely tough, has good defense and has never been finished in his 19-fight career. Yan is also not a huge fight finisher. More than half of Yan’s career fights have gone to decision, including each of his last two UFC title fights. Yan also has a tendency to be a slow starter, which can prolong the fight. As a result, taking the over on the total rounds could be a fruitful bet. Taking the fight to go the distance is also a good choice.

For a riskier but higher-upside bet, taking O’Malley to win by decision (+500) at strong plus money on the back of striking volume from distance is also an option.

Pick: Exact Method of Victory: Decision (-175)

Other considerations:

Sean O’Malley To Win by Decision (+500)

Same Game Parlay (SGP) is available on DraftKings Sportsbook for the UFC! To place a SGP:

  1. Find a fight that has the SGP icon in the top-left corner.
  2. Toggle “Same Game Parlay” on. Once it’s on, all available bets will appear.
  3. Build your Same Game Parlay. Combine multiple bets together from one fight. The more bets you combine, the more you can win.
  4. Place your parlay. Add your Same Game Parlay to your bet slip, enter your wager amount, and submit your bet.

Read more about SGP at the DraftKings Sportsbook SGP page!

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.